In “Becoming,” Michelle Obama doesn’t merely redefine what it means to “have it all,” she breaks the term open, presenting a mosaic of experiences that, collectively, represent a rich, full life.
Reading this book felt akin to a meaningful conversation with a wise friend who reassures you, it’s not about having it all, but becoming who you are meant to be. And in the end, isn’t that what truly matters?
Total Score: 4.6/5
As a book critic, “Becoming” presents a journey that’s both profoundly personal and universally relatable.
The book makes us reassess our definitions of success and power, presenting them not as the destination, but the journey. Michelles’s candidness about her insecurities, her battles, and her triumphs sparked in me a newfound admiration for her resilience and courage.
Here is what you will find in this book review of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama:
Table of Contents
Lets dive in and analyze this amazing memoir.
Why I Chose to Review This Book: It’s not every day you pick up a memoir penned by a former First Lady, and certainly not one as dynamic and inspiring as Michelle Obama.
With “Becoming,” Obama invites us into her world, providing a front-row seat to her exceptional life story — from the South Side of Chicago to the halls of Princeton and Harvard, and ultimately to the White House.
This book is a precious gem that showcases the strength of a woman’s spirit and the power of perseverance, a testament to the importance of forging our own paths. This is one of the reasons I included it as one of the top picks on my list of best inspirational books for women.
Unique Selling Points: “Becoming” stands out from the crowd, not only due to the prestigious status of the author but also because of its raw honesty and sincerity.
Michelle Obama challenges the traditional First Lady narrative, providing a fresh perspective on American history and politics. But above all, she emerges as a compelling character in her own right, a woman with fears, dreams, and ambitions that transcend her public persona.
The book uniquely presents the blend of the personal and political, intertwining tales of family, love, and struggle with themes of race, gender, and power.
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama, much like a chameleon in a beautiful forest, masters the art of blending genres.
Primarily a memoir, it subtly navigates through the tributaries of social and political discourse, personal evolution, and motivation, establishing itself as an expedition of autobiographical non-fiction.
Richly embroidered with themes such as identity, race, education, aspiration, family, and womanhood, the memoir serves as a reflective mirror into the heart of American society, making the personal political and vice versa.
“Becoming” is a memoir, belonging to the genre of autobiographical non-fiction.
But within this frame, it skillfully explores sub-genres of social and political commentary, personal development, and inspirational storytelling.
Themes and Topics
The book brims with themes of identity, race, education, ambition, family, and womanhood.
It presents an honest dialogue on the dynamics of American society and a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between personal and political life.
Plot Structure Analysis
The plot of “Becoming” is largely linear, charting Michelle Obama’s life from her childhood to her years in the White House. However, it’s peppered with flashbacks that lend depth to her narrative and contextualize her experiences.
This temporal flexibility allows the book to organically weave between her past and present, creating an engaging and layered narrative.
“Becoming” is a profound reflection of Michelle Obama’s extraordinary life. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, she navigates through the pressures of growing up black and ambitious in America, her personal triumphs and trials.
From these early experiences, she propels herself into a promising career as a lawyer, but soon questions the trajectory she’s on. Then enters Barack Obama, whose dreams of change resonate with her own.
The book chronicles their journey together, from the personal—marriage, children, career adjustments—to the political, culminating in an eight-year residency at the most famous address in the United States.
As the central character, Michelle Obama’s honesty and self-awareness make her incredibly relatable. She’s unafraid to show vulnerability, allowing readers to connect on a deeply personal level.
Her character evolves significantly throughout the book, reflecting her roles as a daughter, student, professional, wife, mother, and First Lady. Michelle Obama’s growth is tangible and inspirational, and she emerges as a beacon of resilience, grace, and wisdom.
Standout Quotes From The Book
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.”
“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”
Historical and Cultural Context
Written in a time of great political division and social change in America, “Becoming” reflects the unique experiences of a black woman navigating through the spaces traditionally dominated by white men.
It provides commentary on societal norms, racial disparities, and the evolving roles of women, contributing significantly to conversations about race, gender, and power dynamics in contemporary American society.
Writing Style Analysis
Michelle Obama’s writing style in “Becoming” is as inviting as it is evocative. She tells her story with candor and grace, weaving a narrative that is both intimate and expansive.
The tone is conversational, personal, yet authoritative, reflecting her nature as a compassionate listener and a decisive leader.
Reading “Becoming” feels like sitting across from Michelle Obama, engrossed in a profound conversation about life, love, and the pursuit of meaning.
Obama employs a plethora of literary techniques that render her writing vivid and relatable.
From detailed descriptions that paint a vibrant picture of her experiences, to her effective use of anecdotes that illuminate her points, her technique is rich and engaging. She employs symbolism, subtly linking her personal growth with the evolving societal landscape.
Flashbacks are used skillfully to provide context and depth to her narrative.
“Becoming” is written in the first person, offering readers an intimate perspective of Michelle Obama’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
This narrative choice enhances the authenticity of the story, fostering a deep connection between the reader and the author.
The pacing of the story is thoughtful and deliberate. While it features moments of suspense and revelation, especially during key political events, it also allows for deep reflection and introspection.
It’s a beautifully balanced narrative that keeps readers engaged, turning page after page as they accompany Michelle Obama on her remarkable journey.
Reader’s Compass: Mapping the Journey
This section will steer prospective readers through the intriguing landscapes of “Becoming.”
We’ll delve into the ease of traversing Michelle Obama’s memoir, investigate its profound emotional depth, bring to light its substantial educational substance, and acknowledge potential thematic sensitivities.
Best for (type of reader)
“Becoming” is an engaging read for anyone interested in understanding the personal side of political life, exploring themes of identity and race, or seeking inspiration from a story of grit and grace.
It will particularly appeal to those who appreciate memoirs, political non-fiction, and narratives of personal growth and empowerment.
This book is as readable as it is profound. While tackling complex themes, Obama’s clear and relatable prose, coupled with her compelling narrative, ensures a smooth and enjoyable reading experience.
It is engaging for both casual readers and literary enthusiasts alike.
“Becoming” packs a powerful emotional punch. It is filled with moments of vulnerability, strength, disappointment, and triumph that will resonate with readers.
It’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page, sparking contemplation and empathy.
The book provides valuable insights into American history, politics, and the role of race and gender in shaping individual and collective experiences. It also presents an honest dialogue on work-life balance, personal growth, and the intricacies of life in the public eye.
It’s a remarkable study of the challenges and rewards of ‘becoming’ in an ever-changing world.
While it explores difficult themes such as racial discrimination and political struggle, the content is presented with such sensitivity and perspective that it serves to enlighten rather than distress the reader.
About the Author
Michelle Obama, the author of “Becoming,” is more than just a famous name.
She’s an accomplished lawyer, a devoted advocate for education and health, and the first African American to serve as the First Lady of the United States.
Her significance extends beyond her roles; she’s an icon of strength, grace, and resilience, inspiring millions around the world with her integrity and commitment to societal change.
Author’s Inspiration and Influence: Obama’s inspiration for “Becoming” comes from her own life.
Her experiences growing up in the South Side of Chicago, her journey as a high-achieving student, her evolving roles as a professional, wife, and mother, and her tenure in the White House have all significantly influenced this memoir.
Her intention to tell her own story, in her own words, was to inspire others, particularly young women, to work towards becoming their best selves, no matter where they come from.
Impact and Reception
Awards and Recognitions: “Becoming” has received numerous recognitions since its release. It enjoyed a spot in the top position on The New York Times Best Seller list for several weeks and sold more than 10 million copies by 2019.
It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award for Autobiography.
Quotes and Opinions About The Book:
“Obama’s memoir is a refreshing level-set for those of us who have felt protective of her over the last decade.” – Time Magazine
“Becoming is an exquisite, complex, and serious work of literary non-fiction that sparks with the urgency of lived experience.” – The Guardian
“A window into the world of a woman we admire, becoming gives us a rare peek at the internal drive that has propelled a truly extraordinary life.” – Oprah Magazine
Endorsements: Renowned personalities like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, have praised “Becoming.”
Winfrey selected it for her Book Club, declaring, “This book is everything you wanted to know and so much you didn’t even know you wanted to know. I believe it’s going to spark within you the desire to think about your own becoming.”
Impact and Legacy: Since its release, “Becoming” has had a remarkable impact. It’s not only a beloved book, but it has also been adapted into a successful Netflix documentary.
It has sparked countless conversations about identity, ambition, and societal change. Its influence is evident in the myriad of book clubs, school discussions, and public discourses it has inspired.
“Becoming” has certainly etched an indelible mark in the landscape of contemporary memoirs.
If you found Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” inspiring, you may also enjoy:
- “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World” by Melinda Gates
- “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai
- “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama
In a world overflowing with memoirs, Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” stands tall as an exemplar of the genre.
It is a deftly woven narrative that intertwines the personal with the political, the ordinary with the extraordinary, the struggles with the triumphs. It’s more than just a chronicle of Obama’s life; it’s an insightful exploration of identity, race, womanhood, and what it means to constantly evolve and ‘become.’
If you’re looking for a book that’s both enlightening and inspiring, this memoir should definitely top your list. And even if you’re not, read it anyway. You might just ‘become’ a fan.